At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Little Mary's Hospitality House
PO Box 27
Wellston, MI 49689-0027
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
A loving family man with a touch of an ornery side in his Irish blood, James Arnold Duffy was a caring husband, a devoted father, and a cherished grandfather and friend to many. His constant presence here with us will be missed greatly, for he was a spirited soul who leaves behind many great memories.
Not too far into the decade of the 40’s, 1941 had its share of celebrations and times of hardship. After over 10 years of work, South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore was finally completed showcasing the heads of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln carved out of granite rock. It was also the year in which families could, from then on, count on celebrating Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. The United States braced itself as news spread about the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, and war was declared against both Japan and Germany just days later. Before these tough times, though, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Walter Thomas and Elenora B. (Cramer) Duffy were preparing to meet their sweet baby boy. He was born the day before Thanksgiving on November 19th, and they named him James Arnold. He was the third child welcomed into the family, but he would not be the youngest. To complete the Duffy family, one more child was joyfully celebrated leaving Jim as a middle child.
With a childhood spent on the lower Westside of Grand Rapids, in a home located on 2nd and Valley, there was always an adventure waiting. Jim, or "Duffy" as he was often affectionately called, had many friends with whom he played. He was a bit mischievous and was not a stranger to trouble, unlike his older brother who always seemed to escape getting caught. However, some harmless and trouble free times were spent learning how to fish and hunt; these skills lasted him throughout his lifetime. When he was trying his best to stay out of trouble, he attended St. Mary's Church and Elementary School. In time, he enrolled at Catholic Central but soon transferred to Union High School where he earned his high school diploma.
Upon graduation, he enlisted in the United States Navy and served for a little over 3 years as a radioman, translating Morse code messages. He endured an auto accident which left him with a fractured femur while he was in service, so he spent several months recovering. When he was finally discharged, he returned home to find employment with General Motors in the Diesel Motor Equipment factory. This was definitely not one of his favorite positions, as he was not fond of having a boss looking over his shoulder while he worked indoors every day. Thankfully, he was able to secure a different kind of job with Michigan Bell. He spent the rest of his working days primarily as a lineman and sometimes as an installer. He bravely climbed ladders and poles and kept the community connected. He enjoyed this job much more because it gave him the outdoor time he desired, and he made some very good friendships.
After he had established his life as an adult, it was only natural for him to add love. While visiting a bar on Alpine Avenue, he met Bettie Ratliff who was to become his future wife. The two had some common friends, so their paths continued to cross. It was evident that the couple shared something special, and after a year or so, they planned a wedding. They exchanged vows in the fall of 1964 on October 17th at St. James Catholic Church. The new Mr. and Mrs. James Duffy honeymooned in Michigan's beautiful upper peninsula.
The newlyweds returned home to live in an upstairs apartment by Jim's parents for a few years before they decided to buy property on Marlboro in 1967. They lived in this location until 1992 and raised Scott and Dan, their two sons together. The family spent many vacations camping and fishing in State Parks including Interlochen, Pentwater, Grand Haven and Holland. Sometimes Jim would only join them on weekends, and other times, he would commute to work from their camping spots to soak up as much family time as possible. During the spring months, they would also search upon the floors of the Earth to spot the elusive delicacy known as the morel mushroom. They eventually purchased a mobile home in Irons and then later a cottage on Harper Lake. Many amazing memories were created with the whole family on these excursions.
The pleasure of retirement greeted Jim at the young age of 52 years old. During this time, he spent many days at the cottage and planned two notable trips. The first trip was an adventure to the Canadian Rockies which left an impression on Jim forever. The second, which was entirely planned by Jim, was the trip they took to Alaska. This trip was Jim's absolute favorite and the beauty and experience were truly remarkable. As Jim's sons matured into adults finding love of their own, he and Bettie joyfully welcomed the blessing of grandchildren. Andrew and Nicole held a special place in their grandfather's heart. He loved spending time with them and was always very caring in his ways. He relished the moments they shared on the pontoon boat and the excitement cheering at the football games.
As an individual, Jim had many interests that occupied his time in life. He was always active in local organizations such as Jackson Street Hall, American Legion post on Wilson, VFW Post 830, Amvets and Kosciuszko Hall. When those organizations were not in need of his assistance, he would spend countless hours voraciously reading. In fact, Bettie had a difficult time keeping up the supply to his demand, for he finished books sometimes in merely a day. All of this reading helped in keeping his mind young and fresh, as he kept an amazing bank of memory. He was also physically active in his love for golfing and bowling, on occasion, for several years. Sometimes though, he was satisfied with a little rest and relaxation especially when he was still working. He would find great pleasure in switching to 'relax mode' by cracking open a cold Pabst! If the television provided a nature show or two - all the better, but he found contentment guessing the answers to "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy" just as much with his lovely wife.
Since time never stops moving along, neither does the difficulties found in aging. Over the last three years, Jim endured more and more physical challenges. During these times, he slowed down greatly; however, his ability to keep up in conversation never waivered. Perhaps his ever ornery side presented itself more, but this could be blamed strictly on his Irish blood and quickly forgiven. He and Bettie enjoyed an amazing and admirable 52 years of marriage in this life together. On Easter of this year, he entered the hospital due to significant health complications. Though he returned home after some time, he never fully recovered from his ailments. Sadly, he passed away at the age of 75 years old on May 26, 2017. We will hold the memories we shared with him close to our hearts, and we will never forget the legacy Jim leaves behind.
James A. Duffy, age 75 of Walker, passed away May 26, 2017. He was preceded in death by his sister, Ellie Kunkel and brother, Tom Duffy. Jim is survived by his wife of 52 years, Bettie; children Scott Duffy, Dan & Missy Duffy; grandchildren Andrew and Nicole; sister, Mary Ellen Duffy (Ron Skuzinski); brother-in-law Bill Ratliff; and sister-in-law Sue (Roger) Ensing; and several nieces and nephews. Jim served in the Navy and then worked many years for AT&T. The service to remember and celebrate his life will be held on Wednesday, May 31, 2017 at 11 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW where friends may visit with his family on Tuesday from 5-8 PM. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Little Mary's Hospitality House are appreciated. To read more about his life, to share a memory or photo, or to sign his guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com